Dracula has been adapted countless times over the century, yet the new BBC miniseries manages to turn the revered tale into a fast-paced drama whilst still staying relatively true to Bram Stoker’s 1887 novel. Promoted as a “three-day reign of terror,” this adaption certainly didn’t disappoint in the horror department. The atmospheric castle was filled with intrigue, and with the Count emerging out of a bloodied wolf carcass at one stage, there was no shortage of special effects. However, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the series was the casting of Dracula himself, Claes Bang, a Danish actor who is a newcomer to UK television. Bang brings a refreshing approach to the titular character as he delivers lines with the charm and wit of a new James Bond while retaining the menace and dominance of Stoker’s original Count.
The series is split into three episodes which arguably could stand alone in terms of setting The first is set in Dracula’s castle, the second on a boat as he makes his way to England and the third when he finally reaches his destination, however a unique twist strays from the original story in this episode. Despite the stark differences in each episode, it is ultimately the characters of Dracula and his adversary Van Helsing – who is introduced in the form of a whip-smart nun in this adaption – who are able to keep the story together. The to and fro feud between these two rivals is one of the main strengths of the series and the sharp wit on both sides only makes the mind games all the more enjoyable to watch.
Despite the humorous quips and dry satire, those who are fans of horror will not be disappointed as the series has certainly not scrimped in the special effects or makeup department. Gore, peeling fingernails, the undead, flies and of course, blood, are all elements that come together to make even the most hardened watcher squirm in their seat. It’s gory, violent and unsettling in all the right places and with some creepy, atmospheric lighting and a fitting score from former Sherlock composers David Arnold and Michael Price you certainly can’t fault the show for its horror elements.
The series’ producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are no strangers to taking classic tales and putting their own spin on it, as can be seen by the BBC’s Sherlock series. It therefore comes as no surprise that this series had some of its own unique twists and turns. One of the more intriguing aspects that was added is the fact that Dracula becomes a connoisseur when it comes to selecting his victims. Instead of picking at random the count likes to choose as if he is browsing a gourmet menu, picking his meals based on the skills or knowledge he will gain by drinking their blood. The show writers combine original ideas with classic vampire lore such as the fear of sunlight, which weren’t actually in Stoker’s book but will undoubtedly appeal to vampire fans.
This show will certainly hit the spot between horror and humour and it is likely to go down in history as one of the better adaptions of Stoker’s beloved book.
Image Credit: Lis Kasper Bang via Wikipedia